IDIOT OF THE YEAR 2021: Cole Beasley, Enes Kanter, Ron DeSantis, and more doofs

IDIOT OF THE YEAR 2021: Cole Beasley, Enes Kanter, Ron DeSantis, and more doofs

Deadspin’s awards extravaganza in full swing as we approach top 10

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The Idiots of 2021: 20 to 11

Happy holidays, you filthy animals, and welcome to Deadspin’s annual IDIOT OF THE YEAR extravaganza. Within these hallowed slides are 50 of the year’s least bearable dorks, whose transgressions range from “just kinda silly,” to “dangerously stupid,” to “Trevor Bauer.”

The IDIOT OF THE YEAR selections ahead were voted on by an expert team of Deadspin staffers, whose first round of balloting was thrown out after they’d unanimously picked themselves No. 1. With that conflict of interest loophole sewn up, the team tried again. This list is the product of that scrupulous process.

The qualities considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Volume/Wrongness Coefficient: Look, nobody cares if you’re wildly off the mark about everything in private. But please don’t shout about it on national television.
  • Established Track Record of Idiocy: Has the candidate enjoyed sustained excellence in the field?
  • Memorableness: There are many stupid things that happen each day, so time is the ultimate arbiter. If you forgot the person behind the idiocy, chances are it was not sufficiently resonant.
  • Is It Trevor Bauer? If it is Trevor Bauer, they are an idiot.

What follows is a vaguely depressing cross-section of athletics and culture. We invite you to laugh with us not out of spite, but because it’s the only defense mechanism one might hope to muster against the Lovecraftian nightmare that is sports.


Missed our other gripping IDIOT OF THE YEAR installments so far? Here they are:

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20. Kirk Cousins

20. Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins
Illustration: Getty Images

We heard a lot of terrible takes when it comes to COVID and vaccinations in 2021, and many of those came from professional athletes. So to stand out even amongst all the terrible athlete hot COVID takes is a real achievement that deserves recognition.

So today we salute Kirk Cousins, he of the “if I die, I die” COVID stance, truly, one of the dumbest things said in the COVID era, especially from a guy who travels to different cities every week and yells over the top of people for a living. After first suggesting he could just surround himself in plexiglass (the way George Costanza dreamed of draping himself in velvet), and telling the world he planned on taking a “survival of the fittest” approach, Cousins has been mum on his vaccine status, because even if he is vaccinated, some kind of dumb-ass code among white Evangelicals prevents them from admitting it. Cousins’ stance is even stupider given that Vikings’ offensive lineman Dakota Dozier, who is vaccinated, wound up in the hospital after contracting COVID. Given Cousins’ stance, it’s become a favorite pastime this season to watch him saying it and spraying it everywhere in the huddle and the sidelines.

It’s a ride every time Cousins opens his mouth to opine on anything other than football, but for a guy who proudly talks about being a Christian every chance he gets to completely disregard the well-being of those around him… well, that’s IDIOT OF THE YEAR territory.

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19. Major League Baseball

19. Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball logo
Illustration: MLB

Did MLB do anything right this year? Not really. They had scandals galore from past and present and even created new ones that came and went quicker than Jarred Kelenic in his first stint with the Mariners.

The fact that no one is talking about MLB secretly using two different styles of balls to promote specific narratives based on the game being played is just a testament to how poorly MLB was run in 2021. That story doesn’t even turn heads.

Athletics center fielder Ramón Laureano uses PEDs? No one cares. A letter allegedly containing evidence of the New York Yankees using high-speed cameras to steal opposing signs during the Astros scandal remaining unopened just to keep blame pointed at one singular team? That draws no attention. Major League Baseball also had an opportunity to market itself immensely to American and other foreign audiences with the emergence of Shohei Ohtani. Did they use his incredible, never-before-seen season to expand the sport’s marketability? No.

Geez. Major League Baseball was so bad this year, the organization must’ve been run by an absolute imbecile. Perhaps (spoiler alert!) we’ll get to him a little later.

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18. NCAA

18. NCAA

NCAA logo
Illustration: NCAA

The NCAA went up against the Supreme Court this summer and lost spectacularly. You know how idiotic you have to be to get that group to agree, 9-0, that your business model is illegal? The answer is really idiotic. The highest court in the land found the NCAA to be in violation of national antitrust laws stemming from its aggressive insistence that the “amateur” sports model prohibit student athletes from receiving any educational benefits outside of their athletic scholarships. That little amateurism charade wasn’t going to work forever, and the Court pointed out that the America’s most annoying organization is bringing in ridiculous amounts of money each year — which kind of makes the whole mission statement thing look like a way to hoard that wealth for the higher-ups rather than distributing benefits to the actual athletes.

Well, despite complainers left and right (many of whom are making millions a year themselves), this year has proved a pivotal turning point in athlete compensation and athletes’ autonomy within the system. The NCAA is losing its tyrannical grip and desperately trying to make up for it by punishing schools who cooperate with their investigations. One can only hope Mark Emmert and company are knocked down a few pegs after this year.

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17. Cal McNair

17. Cal McNair

Cal McNair
Illustration: Getty Images

The Houston Texans owner didn’t have as friendly of a crowd as he thought he did at a charity golf event in May, when he referred to COVID as the “China virus,” a term popularized by Donald Trump in the final months of his presidency. God, the NFL’s been such a hot mess this year that ol’ Cal here got off easy on this one, especially since the news broke months after the comments had actually been made. The complete ignorance of the comment is made more insensitive by the steep increase in hate crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans in the United States over the past year and a half.

At least he was, hopefully, embarrassed — one witness said that he and his wife seemed to be the only two people in the room who found his comment funny, while the rest of the group was appalled and actually gasped aloud. Maybe he’s just trying to outdo his racist father, the late former Texans owner Bob McNair, who told a room full of NFL owners that “we can’t have the inmates running the prison” during the height of the kneeling protests. Classic McNair family stuff here.

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16. Atlanta Braves

16. Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves
Illustration: Atlanta Braves

The World Series Champs make our top 20 for their insanely stubborn insistence on keeping the organization’s racist mascot alive. They’re not being asked to reinvent the wheel here, as several teams have already pivoted away from their own cartoonish Native American mascots, including the Cleveland Guardians and the Washington Football Team, but not only does Atlanta firmly stand by its mascot in the face of actual living Native Americans telling them it’s not okay — they also encourage the “Tomahawk Chop” from their fans, who had the opportunity to perform said offensive gesture this fall on a national stage.

As we pointed out in October, change likely won’t come until sponsors threaten to pull their funding, which hasn’t happened yet. For a more in-depth look at why the name is so problematic, you can read our article on the Chop and the Atlanta baseball team here.

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15. Enes Kanter

15. Enes Kanter

Enes Freedom (née Kanter)
Illustration: Getty Images

Look, we’re not saying that the artist formerly known as Enes Kanter is definitely CIA, but it sure is interesting that the seldom-used Boston Celtics center likes to speak out against governments that the U.S. is engaged in propaganda campaigns against, like China and Venezuela.

Strangely, the former Turkish citizen is silent on human rights abuses in Palestine, and has never uttered a word about the U.S. arming Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Nothing on the U.S. killing Muslims in the war on terror? Which included, regularly, U.S. forces bombing Chinese Uighyurs. Bet they were thankful for all that freedom.

Equally strange are these bedfellows: liberals now joining the chorus of MAGAs mouthing, “What about China?” to LeBron James. That Mike Pompeo-Donald Trump foreign policy sure goes down better after voting blue, huh? The dumbest part of all this is Kanter invited James and Nike president Phil Knight to see the “slave labor camps” in Xinjiang, which is… checks notes… the biggest tourist attraction in the world. So you think an authoritarian regime is going to let you saunter in with one of the most famous people on the planet to see all human rights abuses going on? And no one in Western media even called bullshit on this. But we will. Idiot.

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14. Bob Baffert

14. Bob Baffert

Bob Baffert
Illustration: Getty Images

Racehorse trainer Bob Baffert unwittingly became one of the funniest idiots of the year when he blamed none other than “cancel culture” when it was discovered that his Derby-winning horse (RIP Medina Spirit) had tested positive for a banned substance. Did agents of cancel culture dope up that horse, Bob? In a sport that’s filled to the brim with unbearable and filthy rich people, Baffert somehow takes the cake on this one. One excuse he made claimed that a groomer had taken cough syrup and peed in the horse’s stall, and the horse had proceeded to drink it.

This was far from Baffert’s first offense of the sport, nor was it his first time using some half-baked excuse, which was why Churchill Downs temporarily banned him (again, not “cancel culture,” whatever he meant by that. That you can’t get away with illegal doping anymore? Yeah, okay). The cherry on top was when Baffert’s attorney went on CNN and said that he was, direct quote, “the Michael Jordan of horse racing.” Just incredible stuff there.

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13. Matt Nagy

13. Matt Nagy

Matt Nagy
Illustration: Getty Images

There’s probably no one on this list who is more willing to admit he’s an idiot, while doing nothing to change it and taking no responsibility for it, than Matt Nagy. We’ve spent the whole season illustrating all the things he can’t or won’t do despite his status as a supposed offensive genius. He doesn’t protect his rookie QB, he doesn’t make things easy, doesn’t stick with what’s working, doesn’t have a plan, doesn’t see what would be his salvation, and so on forever.

The thing with Nagy is, he’ll tell you that. Every postgame presser is filled with, “Yeah, we gotta look at that.” Or, “That’s on me, I have to be better about that.” Or, “That was my call.” So he doesn’t run from his idiocy. He acknowledges it, which I guess puts him a half-notch above Urban Meyer, who bus tossed so many people on his way out that all Jacksonville public transportation vehicles come with a cow-catcher.

And yet nothing ever changed in Chicago. All the same mistakes kept getting made. Which makes it sad, mostly. Nagy can see the problems, and he knows it’s his fault. And yet he can’t see that there’s another way. He thinks he has to keep running into the same wall. He can’t walk around it. He can’t go over it, even though that’s what everyone else does. He must not think he’s worthy of another plan, another method. It’s tragic, in a way.

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12. Cole Beasley

12. Cole Beasley

Cole Beasley
Illustration: Getty Images

Oh, Cole Beasley. Where do we start with this colossus of idiocy? Was it how he deactivated his social media after being called out by pretty much everyone for his insane COVID hot takes? No! We congratulate Cole Beasley for deleting Twitter. Hopefully more who share his thoughts on the virus, and on vaccines, follow his lead. But he finds himself here, in our top 50, for the mountain of nonsense he posted up until October.

Like this:

“I may die of covid, but I’d rather be actually living.” Profound!

Or this:

“I’m not going to take meds for a leg that isn’t broken.” Cool! That’s… not really relevant here, but good for you?

Or this!

“I’d rather take my chances with Covid and build up my immunity that way. Eat better. Drink water. Exercise and do what I think is necessary to be a healthy individual.”

Water is not — well, fuck it. Never mind. You do you, man. Just don’t catch COVID and get yourself knocked out of a pivotal late-season game. Oh, too late.

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11. Ron DeSantis

11. Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis
Illustration: Getty Images

Ron DeSantis is a turd. The foulest of turds. Ron DeSantis is the type of foul turd that a person with no appreciation for your hospitality would leave in your toilet, not flush, not spray, leave the door open, and refuse to wash their hands after. He is as foul of a turd as there is floating in the toilet bowl of American leadership.

His new Stop W.O.K.E act is: a legislative proposal that will give businesses, employees, children and families tools to fight back against woke indoctrination. That is a literal sentence on the website of a public servant of the state of Florida. His No. 1 goal at this point appears to be, outside of getting re-elected, is to pull out every stop in his quest to make the state less welcoming for racial minorities, women, and members of the LGBTQ community.

DeSantis has even found a way for his foul stench to creep into sports. He signed one bill over the summer to promote “intellectual diversity” in college education. Students and faculty will be surveyed to make sure there is a “diversity” of opinions on Florida campuses and if a student feels that a professor is not allowing them to freely express their opinion, they can record the class with no penalty. DeSantis also passed a law forcing athletes in secondary and post-secondary public education to compete against the members of their sex, not their gender identity. For him, in the middle of a pandemic, gun violence epidemic, inflation, and rising hate crime rates, making sure that ignorant and offensive viewpoints can be shouted or taught in a college classroom with no judgement or reprimand, and an athlete at a school is not allowed to participate in athletics in a way that makes them most comfortable.

So when you’re in Florida and everyone once in a while that nasty swampy stench hits you in the nose, it’s not just the swap you’re smelling. It’s a turd in Tallahassee flushing his stench into every inch of the state he governs.

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